Update – March 2017


With 2017 well underway, Queensland Health continues to work on the recommendations from the Barrett Inquiry with their commitment to engage with consumers and carers clearly evident. Progress on each issue is reported on in the Communiqué released following the 4th meeting of the Steering Committee. (This and other documents can be directly accessed from Queensland Health here.)

Some Key Developments

Submissions on the preliminary Model of Service for the new statewide Adolescent Extended Treatment Facility have now closed. The Queensland Health website indicates that “comprehensive input came from a broad range of sources” (Health Consumers Queensland put in a group response to add to multiple individual responses) with a thematic analysis now being undertaken. A summary report will be released when it is completed.

With the school such a key component of the Barrett Adolescent Centre, Education is an area that must be considered alongside Health within the Model of Service. To that end, Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) is running a survey to ascertain what form education should take within the new facility and beyond that. Anyone with insights or opinions on education for young people with severe and complex mental health issues is urged to complete the survey as collaboration with Education Queensland is underway and will continue to be a significant element of the Model of Service.

The other HCQ Survey links, along with all the information on the work on the Inquiry Recommendations – including how you can become involved – can be found HCQ’s Barrett page here. Alternatively, if you want to contact Queensland Health directly for further information or to become involved in the consultation processes, you’re invited to email the Manager of the COI Implementation Team (Judith Piccone) on EDyouthmentalhealth@health.qld.gov.au.

Where Recommendation 5 (Improve transitions for adolescents moving into adult mental health services) is concerned, the government is currently seeking proposals to review the alignment and transition arrangements between adolescent and adult public mental health services in Queensland. Details are available at the QTenders page and qualified independent consultants are invited to apply before 3 March.

Health Consumers Queensland is proving to be not just a vital conduit but a valued resource with advisors and facilitators who can utilise their own expertise and that of other skilled professionals to ensure that consumers/carers are key figures in discussions and planning. Their commitment to this community is evidenced by the Keynote Presentation at HCQ’s 18 May Annual Forum in Townsville … a panel with HCQ, Queensland Health and Consumer/Carer reps discussing the experience and benefits of consumer/community engagement on Barrett COI Recommendations so far. (HCQ provides assistance for consumers to attend the forum so if you are interested in participating, you can put in an application using this form.)

Some significant efforts went into putting together the 9 February Consumer/Carer Presentation to the Steering Committee that “highlighted the lived experiences of consumers and families and the complexities navigating various service systems when a young person has a severe and complex mental health issue”. Supported comprehensively by Leonie Sanderson and Melissa Fox, some courageous and compassionate individuals contributed their personal stories to illustrate the challenges that those affected by severe and complex adolescent mental health issues continue to be faced with. It’s hoped that this presentation will evolve into a number of resources to more widely educate (with specific tools developed for different groups from clinical staff to the general public) with special care always taken to ensure the privacy, security and well-being of those who have contributed their personal experiences.

No mention of current planning or future services can go without recognition for those with lived experience of severe and complex adolescent mental health issues who continue to play a role. Those we have lost and those whose lives have been permanently altered are always in our thoughts. The depth of their pain fuels the need to ensure others will never endure such suffering. And those who are able to directly contribute to the process do so empowered by amazing personal strength and a commitment to help others. There is no doubt that the stories and insights from the past and present will shape the ethos and the practical elements of the kind of service provision that will have a positive impact. The young people and family members of the future will be indebted to those who came before. Those whose pain was so often tragically misunderstood but whose bravery and compassion for others will never be forgotten. If their voices continue to be heard and validated, they will be the foundation of a system that must ultimately meet the needs of EVERYONE who encounters mental health issues in Queensland.

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